By Mike Shannon and Will Feltus // September 27, 2012 | 12:00 p.m.
In this March 28, 2012 file photo, a truck driver delivers Heineken beer and other drinks in New York.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Credit: Tracey Robinson, NMRPP
Americans who most often drink Dos Equis are in the middle-of-the-road while drinkers of Heineken's flagship brand are strongly Democratic. Samuel Adams drinkers are strongly Republican, and more likely to vote.
Beer has a long and storied place in American presidential history and politics.
George Washington famously brewed it. James Madison purportedly sought to create a cabinet-level Secretary of Beer. And Franklin Delano Roosevelt helped make it legal to produce and sell (again) by championing legislation repealing Prohibition. Upon signing the bill, he reportedly said, "I think this would be a good time for a beer."
As you may have heard, our current president likes his beer, too. Earlier this month, the Obama White House released two official recipes of its own in a blog post entitled "Ale to the Chief."
Of course, this savvy election-year move was not the first time Obama has played the "beer card." In 2009, he famously hosted a "Beer Summit" at the White House to help quell racial tensions.
Beer is also a staple on the presidential campaign trail, with candidates often visiting pubs to show they understand the common man. Similarly, pollsters sometimes ask the question, "Who would you rather have a beer with?" to gauge which candidate has the likeability edge.
Last week, beer poured into presidential politics in an unprecedented way when the beverage's most famous personality - the Most Interesting Man in the World - hosted an Obama fundraiser. You've likely seen him in ads for Mexican beer Dos Equis. His real name is Jonathan Goldsmith.
Some Dos Equis fans were not happy about the fundraiser and expressed their displeasure on the beer's Facebook page, according to Ad Age.
"Mr. Goldsmith's opinions and views are strictly his own, and do not represent those of Dos Equis," said Heineken USA, which imports Dos Equis, in a statement seeking to head off political blow-back.
Clearly, the Most Interesting Man in the World, who "once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels," has created an awkward moment for the brewing company.
Should Heineken be worried about damage to one of its flagship brands?
(RELATED: What Your Favorite Beer Says About Your Politics)
Based on the partisanship of beer drinkers, they are wise to be in damage control mode.
We've analyzed Scarborough Research data, which includes 200,000 interviews with American adults, to determine the politics of beer drinkers.
As the bubble chart shows, Dos Equis is a bipartisan brew - Republicans and Democrats both like to drink it. So Mr. Goldsmith's public foray into the 2012 race could alienate a large share of Dos Equis fans.
Ironically, this is in contrast to its corporate sister Heineken, which as it turns out is the most Democratic beer of all. On the other hand, Republicans love their Coors Light and favor Sam Adams, which is brewed just a few miles away from Romney campaign headquarters and whose namesake was an original tea partier.
Dos Equis is not the first - and won't be the last - brand to find itself in a political pickle. From Chick-fil-A to Susan G. Komen to the pizza owner who recently hugged the president, the fallout depends on media coverage, the brand's response, and the political values of its customers.
We continue to advise big brands - who spend millions on consumer research - to make the investment to know where their fans stand politically and to put in safeguards to mitigate a political firestorm.
That being said, the best advice we can give: Stay nonpartisan, my friends.
Will Feltus is the Senior Vice President for media research and planning at National Media in Alexandria, Virginia. Mike Shannon is a partner at the consulting firm Vianovo in Austin, Texas.
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